Master Series: Carmichael Lynch

Carmichael Lynch – Advertising Master

Lee Lynch founded the ad agency, the popular Carmichael Lynch, with a simple philosophy: advertise products you enjoy using.

“The notion that the client sells something that the advertising people buy and enjoy seems critical to how Carmichael Lynch has positioned itself,” Kira Obolensky wrote in Graphis Issue 315. “It makes the act of advertising anything but cynical—and it turns admen into enthusiasts.”

The agency was founded in 1962, when Lynch met Jack Carmichael while working at the Minneapolis Star and Tribune, and began the agency out of Carmichael’s home in south Minneapolis. The agency landed its first major client, the Arctic Cat snowmobile account, in 1969. Two years later, Carmichael Lynch received “Best of Show” honors from the Advertising Federation of Minnesota. It would later be named one of the ten best in advertising in Graphis Issue 309.

“To some, a brand is just a name,” Warren Berger wrote in Graphis Issue 343. “But to the ad agency  Carmichael Lynch, a brand is a living, evolving entity, complete with a personality and—if it’s a particularly strong brand—a soul.”

The agency worked with brands including Rapala fishing lures and Harley Davidson, among others. “Carmichael Lynch ad campaigns became the story of the brand,” Berger wrote. “People who weren’t necessarily hardcore customers also took an interest in these campaigns.”

Carmichael Lynch remains a force in the advertising world and picked up GNC as a client in January. In 2010, the agency parted ways with Harley-Davidson, a company that had been a client for 31 years. Surprisingly, Carmichael Lynch resigned the iconic motorcycle manufacturer account.

“We anticipate shock and disbelief from some in our industry over our decision,” Doug Spong, then president of Carmichael Lynch, said in a statement in 2010. “But it’s in our best interest to part ways.”

Spong has been a part of the company since 1990, when Carmichael Lynch created a public relations sister company, Carmichael Lynch Spong, to handle new business in public relations. In April, Doug Spong changed the name of the company, dropping Carmichael Lynch and rebranding the agency as Spong. “We’re making this move to avoid confusion between Spong and Carmichael Lynch,” Doug Spong told the Minneapolis Star Tribune.

Other Designers and firms from Minnesota that have contributed to Graphis include FAME,
Brad Norr, Michael Hall, Mike Caguin of Colle + McVoy, Kate Arends, Alan Colvin of Cue,
Paul Sieka, Nathan Hinz, David Schwen, Clarity Coverdale Fury, Duffy & Partners, Bruce Edwards, KNOCK Inc. and Scott Thares. Graphis Advertising Master Pat Fallon, too, hails from Minnesota

The advertising competition features the most compelling and influential advertising of the year. Gold and Platinum awards, along with winning entries, will be published in the Advertising Annual 2015. Submit your work to the Advertising Annual 2015 competition here.

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